Color Palette

What Does Color Palette Mean?

A color palette, in the digital world, refers to the full
range of colors that can be displayed on a device screen or other interface, or
in some cases, a collection of colors and tools for use in paint and
illustration programs. The color palette reveals a lot about the electronic
design of the device or technology, and its visual capabilities for human


A color palette is also known simply as a palette.

Techopedia Explains Color Palette

The digital color palette emerged from the earliest computers, which only had monochrome displays. Early examples include the Teletext format with a three-bit RGB eight-color palette and the Apple II personal computer with a 16-color palette. Devices like early Atari, Commodore and Apple computers and consoles used their own evolving color palettes built on new color technology.

Eventually, advances in display technology introduced a 256-color VGA display that remained a standard until the creation of modern flat-screen plasma screen monitors.

Early color palettes used hexadecimal values to represent and select the array of colors possible in the display systems. Modern color palettes are more likely to show users a color wheel or sophisticated color selection tool to choose from a wide variety of hues and shades of color. It is worth noting that the advancement in digital color palettes and video display color choices coincided with and allowed for the rapid evolution of the modern digital camera, which has now been embedded into smartphones and mobile devices.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.